Cubs prepare for stretch run, sign speedsters including Emilio Bonifacio

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Chicago Cubs are keeping an eye on September and October as by signing two potential pinch runners. Former Cub Emilio Bonifacio returned on a minor league deal Tuesday while speedster Quintin Berry was brought in to help on Monday.

"It's something I had the privilege of having when I managed the Rays and you've seen more recently what the Royals have been able to do," manager Joe Maddon said before the Cubs played the San Francisco Giants.

Berry stole 60 bases in the minors over the past two seasons though he's appeared in just 23 major league games since 2013. He stole 21 in the big leagues for the Detroit Tigers in 2012 while Bonifacio has 165 stolen bases in his career and became available after the White Sox released him earlier this month.

"Speed plays," Maddon said. "When you have the expanded rosters you can be really specific what you're looking for."

There are no guarantees for either player but the Cubs are preparing themselves by filling a need. Either or both could be recalled when rosters expand on Sept. 1 though you wouldn't expect a lot of at-bats for them. Pinch runners have become an especially valuable tool in the playoffs as well.

"We'll see how it all plays out," Maddon said.

Both players will report to Triple-A Iowa to get at-bats in the final week of the season in the minors before possibly being called up. They could also be called up later in September as well.